Sports

BC Hockey League announces new playoff format

The BC Hockey League’s playoff format is changing again.

The post-season change was one of a number of moves announced by the junior ‘A’ hockey league after holding its annual general meeting in Richmond on June 7-8.

With the league moving to a three-division alignment for the 2012/13 season, the playoffs will consist of the top four of five teams in each of the two Coastal Conference divisions making the post-season. The No. 1 and 4 seeds will face off in first-round best-of-five series, with the No. 2 and 3 seeds will also play each other.

A second round best-of-fives series will determine the Coastal Conference finalists, who will then play a best-of-seven series, with the winner advancing to the league championship.

In the six-team Interior, there is one less playoff round, as the top four teams will qualify for the post-season, with the teams playing a best-of-seven series. The two first-round winners will then play a best-of-seven Interior Conference final, with the winner advance to the league championship.

Back in January, the BCHL announced its conference and division re-alignment. There will be 10 teams, including the Surrey Eagles, in the Coastal Conference – split into Island and Mainland divisions – while the league’s remaining six squads will make up the Interior Conference. At the time, the league postponed announcing a playoff format, and instead solicited advice from teams on how to frame the post-season.

Other changes announced at the time were the reduction of the regular season from 60 to 56 games and the addition of a three-day showcase event from Sept. 7-9, with game results counting in the regular-season standings. That event will be hosted by the Chilliwack Chiefs, it was recently announced.

Other changes announced after the AGM last week included the discontinuation of the 15-year-old affiliate player draft, and the expansion of team rosters from 21 players to 22. Coaches will also now have the option of placing one player on a longterm injury reserve, thus freeing up another roster spot.

Rumours of roster expansion were floated when the January changes were announced – news that was met with positive reviews.

“That’s a really good thing,” said Eagles coach Matt Erhart at the time. “With just 20 guys, you get one guy hurt, somebody else gets sick and then you have to start using affiliate players already.”

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